Recently, West Bloomfield High School teacher, Joshua Barclay, won the prestigious award of Michigan Science Teacher of the Year. Mr. Barclay teaches all of the advanced physics classes at WBHS, and has been teaching physics at the high school and collegiate level for over 23 years. He is also the sponsor of WBHS’ Earth Club, as he is a major advocate for promoting sustainability in the West Bloomfield community.
Despite earning this honor, Mr. Barclay feels that he is not all that different from other science teachers at WBHS. Like them, he said, “I don’t think I won this award because of what sets me ‘apart’ from other science teachers, rather how I try to exemplify what is best about so many science teachers in our state and in our school. Like them, I work hard every day to challenge students, to motivate students, to appeal to different ways that students learn, and to get students excited about science and technology.” According to senior, Cameron Dickinson, “Mr. Barclay has an extreme passion for teaching physics, day in and day out. He is always there looking to help his students succeed in every aspect, whether it be in the classroom or life itself.” Senior Andrew Rockett expressed appreciation for Mr. Barclay by stating, “He always is there for his students and has a deep care and passion for making sure his students learn to the best of their ability. He focuses more on the objective of learning and improving, rather than focusing on grades and mere points.”
Aside from being an innovative and supportive teacher, Mr. Barclay has also been responsible for many earth-friendly initiatives within the local community. He promotes renewable energy and energy efficiency through public lectures, presentations, and even has a renewable energy project at DreamFarm.org. This is not Mr. Barclay’s first publication feature! He has been the feature of many local and even national publications for all of his work within the West Bloomfield Community and beyond. The highly esteemed “Green American” highlights Mr. Barclay’s love and passion for the environment and teaching his surrounding community (http://www.greenamerica.org/pubs/greenamerican/articles/SeptOct2011/why-Josh-Barclay-and-Green-America-say-Efficiency-First.cfm). This deep rooted passion seems to propell the exceptionally high level of teaching and learning within his classroom. Mr. Barclay expressed the fact that, “A lot of my motivation comes from my desire to preserve our planet. Science and technology got us into this mess of climate change, and I believe science and technology can get us out.” He continued, “By switching to carbon neutral technologies such as wind and solar, and promoting energy efficiency, we can prevent the worst effects of climate change.” Barclay claims that his classroom atmosphere has remained the same since his big victory, and the root of his success in teaching has always been his desire to help preserve our Earth. He emphasized, “I want my students to be able to contribute to that effort, as well as contribute to society in other ways which a strong science background will allow them.”
When asked about how he has developed as a teacher and as a person throughout the course of his teaching career, he humbly responded, “The longer I teach, the more I realize how little I actually know and how little science actually knows. By teaching my students, I learn so much about physics and life every year that I have become much more humble about both.” Mr. Barclay proceeded to explain, “The purpose of science is to prove all previous science wrong, so to pursue science in earnest, one must maintain a perspective of continuous wonder and realize that whatever models we have about the universe are likely incorrect, or at least incomplete. For example, current cosmology models indicate that only 4.6% of the mass of the universe is made of what we call matter. The other 95.4% is hypothesized to be ‘dark energy’ and “dark matter”– and we have no idea what those things are, or if they actually exist! We are literally in the dark about most of the universe. There is so much we still don’t understand about science and the universe, we don’t even realize how much we don’t know. I try to maintain an attitude of continuous learning—I hope to always be able to continue learning throughout my teaching career.”
The West Bloomfield High School community continues to be inspired by Mr. Barclay through learning about how to live more green lives, while protecting the environment in order to preserve it for future generations. WBHS is honored to have a teacher, such as Mr. Barclay, whose passion is infectious to the aspiring future leaders of the world.